As Mike has done, I am posting an article here that I included in my Atheism column a couple of days ago. I will have some fresh content later for this site. I have not had the opportunity to post here as often as I would like to. Only recently, at my request, Examiner.com allowed me to pick up another column. So, now in addition to being the National Atheism Examiner, I am the National Science Examiner under the Education channel. As you might imagine, the building of that site has kept me busy. Anyway, without further ado… a little something mushy from the heart. (Yes, atheists do have those.)
As President-elect Barack Obama makes his way along the east coast, I watch the media coverage with a great deal of interest. I must admit that I have had, once or twice, to choke back a tear or two.
While he was being introduced in Pennsylvania, I was moved by the emotion that was thick on the scene. The hopes and sentiments of the people in attendance echoed my own. As I watched Obama take the stage and as I listened to him speak, it occurred to me that never have I been so emotionally invested in a presidency as I have been while anticipating the coming one.
I can remember only a handful of times when I have felt such awe in regard to a presidency as I feel now. When I watched footage of President John Kennedy several years ago, I felt it. Of course, JFK died a year before I was born. The first time I studied the US Constitution, I was awestruck. Of course, that was written before my time. When I studied the writings of our founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, I was blown away by the vision they dared to strive for. When I read documents written by Abraham Lincoln, I was inspired. All of the things that have inspired such awe in me happened before I was born.
And now, there’s Barack Obama. He seemingly embodies what so many people have longed for – a presidency that will get this nation back on its secular track – symbolized, if you will, in his reenacting of the Whistle-Stop Train Tour. The train is back on track.
From the perspective of one atheist, me, this is a huge moment in American history. I, like so many atheists, strive every day to have the atheist voice heard – to be considered, if not represented, equally in this nation. Obama is the first glint of hope we have had in a very long time toward that end. Never have I felt so patriotic and so included as I do at this moment.
When he speaks, I believe he is speaking to everyone, including me – an atheist, and, yes, an American. And, even though I have heard him say, “God bless you and God bless America” at the end of his addresses today, I believe that he will be a president who will check his religion at the door when he is performing his duties as president. I believe he will work toward a government that is truly secular as it was intended to be. I am hopeful.
I have not been hopeful in a long time. I have not dared to believe. As days go by a different reality than the one I hope for may unfold. Nevertheless, for now, I will continue to hope. I will continue to believe. And, no matter what, I will remember that, even if only for a moment, I knew what it was like to feel included and to feel like an American.